In 1692 the Augustinian Prior General had commented that Augustinian candidates from Ireland were "for the most part young men from noble families."
In truth, these sons of landowners and merchants would have been the ones with educational opportunity, including previous exposure to the learning of the Latin language.
As well, these probably were the only families who could afford financially to send their sons to the Continent for the numerous required years of education for priesthood, which was a calling that was held in very high respect by the general population of Ireland.
Some of these young priests returned to Ireland at the risk of their lives. A small number of them suffered martyrdom.
In the eighteenth century aspirants also came from the less wealthy farming class and from the growing towns and cities. Dublin in particular was a fruitful source of vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Some Irish Augustinians laboured for about half a century in Newfoundland, beginning in 1756.
Some even with great courage managed to enter England and Scotland at different times in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, but were unable to re-establish any Augustinian communities there.
In 1751 an Irish Augustinian, Augustine Cheevers O.S.A., was made Bishop of Ardagh, Ireland and served there under the harsh Penal Laws until 1756.
He was then transferred to the Diocese of Meath, and died there on 18th August 1778.
Another Irish Augustinian, William Gahan O.S.A. (1732-1804), wrote and published during the difficult time of the penal laws. His Sermons and Moral Discourses had been reprinted seven times by the year 1873.
As well he wrote about fifteen other instructional books about the Catholic Church, its beliefs, history, devotions and practices of piety.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: St Augustine's Church, in the main street of Cork, Ireland.
Picture 2: Augustinian churct, Grantstown, Ireland.
Picture 3: Augustinian church, Limerick, Ireland.
Former Augustinian Priory, Callan. Excellent photographs by Brian T McElherton. (Note that many other Augustinian friaries on this web site did not involve the Order of St Augustine, but the more numerous Canons Regular of St Augustine.)
Former Augustinian Friary, Adare. Founded in County Limerick in 1316, but now a Church of Ireland. Excellent photographs by Brian T McElherton. (See also http://www.flickr.com/photos/moli516/2903763611) (Note that many other Augustinian friaries on this web site did not involve the Order of St Augustine, but the more numerous Canons Regular of St Augustine.)